Judith Adams


November 1996

One Horse Productions
Battersea Arts Centre, November 1996

Shortlisted: Susan Smith Blackburn Award

Directed by Gaynor Macfarlane
Designed by Tim Meacock


Nick Fletcher, Lorraine Hilton, Dean McGuirn, Jamie Roberts, Isobel Middleton, Tracy Wiles, Lyn Christie, Rose Keegan, Kate Laurie, Raewyn Lippert, Michael Larkin, Lawrence Crawford.


“Burdalane” takes us on a voyage to the remote island of St. Kilda in the eighteenth century. Alexander Carlisle, a scientist, is going to check the condition of a mad woman. Only she’s not mad, she’s angry. The woman in question is Rachel Erskine, Lady Grange, whose husband has declared her dead, staged an elegant Edinburgh funeral marred solely by the second Lady Grange’s attendance, and shipped her off to St. Kilda to rot. Carlisle’s luggage consists of eight barrels of whisky intended to hasten the lady’s demise. Adams’ St. Kilda is a strange and magical place, where women sleep with any man they want, where shoes are made of gannet’s necks sewn together with feathers, and where the title of King is a gift to the worst fool on the island._The play is a rich and complex one, with an attractive range of tone, and it has been brought to life superbly by Gaynor McFarlane’s in-the-round production. A rare and exotic evening, well worth the trip to Battersea.”

David Tushingham, Time Out Critic’s Choice

“Already broadcast on Radio 4, this stage premiere of Judith Adams’ imagined play about the real-life abandonment of one Rachel, Lady Grange – dumped on the island of St. Kilda in the 18th century by her unscrupulous Edinburgh spouse – carries the quiet but irrefutable force of a fantastic dream. Adams’ language and imagery also suggests a community of rich mythologies and a Garden of Eden naturalness in affairs sexual – fatally undermined by missionaries and their hellfire and brimstone theologies.”

Carole Woddis, What’s On In London (also in the Glasgow Herald: “This should be seen in Scotland – and soon” – CW)

“Burdalane’s strength derives from Judith Adams’ script (an outstanding first play) and Gaynor McFarlane’s direction, which together bring to life a strange matriarchal society. It’s enough to give historical drama a good name.”

Adrian Turpin, The Independent

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